Stella Barton - Paralympic Athlete Fundraising

Stella Barton - Paralympic Athlete Fundraising

May 07, 2024

Individual Athletes

Stella Barton is a talented Para-Equestrian rider, currently working her way through a series of qualifying events in the hopes of competing in Dressage at the Paris 2024 Paralympics.  

Quick Facts

  • $7,423 raised (and still growing)
  • 51 Donations
  • $145 average donation

Stella’s equestrian journey started at the age of seven when she began with Riding for the Disabled on a more casual basis. At age 14, she felt as though she had lost the spark that riding once offered and wanted to quit. Stella’s mother and biggest supporter, Sarah Barton, encouraged her to attend one last lesson in order to say her goodbyes to the sport and people she knew and loved, which is where her Coach, Mary Longden, stated that she should be training for the Paralympics, helping to reignite her passion for riding. She was then put in touch with her current coach, Sally Francis, who has helped lead her to her successes so far.  

Although she’s been competing as an Australian Grade 1* Para Dressage rider since 2016, Stella graduated from university two years ago and has since set her sights on the Paris Paralympics. 

In a competition in Sydney in 2023, Stella’s personal horse, Disco, no longer showed “the motivation to go at a nice, regular forward pace”, hindering Stella’s chances in her Paralympics campaign. Fortunately, three-time Paralympian Sharon Jarvis saw Stella’s potential and offered her own horse, Bug, for training and competitions.  

For Stella’s Paralympics campaign, she’s fundraising for the cost of Bug’s welfare, which includes transport to and from his home in Western Australia when needed, as well as coaching, training, grooming, agistment and fitness expenses.  

On top of Bug’s expenses, there are also, competition entries and costs associated with travel for Stella, Sarah and their team, including transport, accommodation and food. 


“I could not do it without my team. I would not be where I am without these people.” – Stella Barton

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  1. Build your story and focus on the characters.  

  2. Use different mediums to tell your story.  

  3. Keep donors informed.  


Sarah is a documentary filmmaker, with previous experience fundraising for charities, so she knows just how influential a good story can be when it comes to securing donations.    

Her first piece of advice to athletes and clubs setting up a project is:  

“Think about what your objective is. Are you trying to get to the Olympics? Or are you just trying to get some lessons to get to the next step? Be very specific about what you want. Say what you’re aiming for, your goal, and how you’re going to measure if you succeed.” 

Sarah also explained that people are always being asked for money, whether it’s online or offline. For this reason, it’s critical that you’re transparent about your need and the impact a donation will have.  

“If people are just going to be funding something vague, then they’re going to be less motivated.”  

Once you have thoroughly explained your need, focus on the story and the “characters”. This is where you can tell your personal story and build an emotional connection between yourself as an athlete (or a club) and the reader. When it comes to building an emotional connection, you may find our guide on writing your fundraising story helpful.    

Sarah has also used her personal experience as a documentarian to film a video that delves deeper into Stella’s journey and drives viewers to donate. This is shared on her ASF project, on social media, and YouTube and is a fantastic example of using different mediums to grab attention.  

 Even without being a documentarian, you can still capture a story in a meaningful way on video just by using your smartphone. 


One of the primary ways that Stella engages with her supporters is through her Facebook page. Here, she posts multiple times a week, providing followers with updates about training, information on upcoming competitions, links to watch her compete, and any other news.   

To help boost donations to her ASF project, Stella and Sarah “did a really intense campaign for a couple of months”, which helped to drive traffic to her fundraiser. As her Paralympic campaign is picking up more momentum, and she’s getting more attention, they’re currently planning another campaign.   

However, when asking for donations, Stella and Sarah are both cautious in their approach. Echoing Campbell Harrison’s concerns, they’re mindful that “people are doing it tough” at the moment, and Sarah is careful to always emphasise to potential donors that they should only donate if they’re financially able to do so.  

Stella also occasionally uses her platform to thank donors. For example, on this post, she states:  

“Finally to the people who have financially supported me through the Australian Sports Foundation donations, I really appreciate your support and good wishes for this campaign. Thank you all.”   

On this, Sarah explained that:  
“People just want to be acknowledged. Sometimes it’s appropriate to thank them in your social media posts.” 

Stella and Sarah also stressed the importance of personalised thanks. They mentioned that a major donation had come from outside of their network, and that person happened to be attending the Boneo Park event (where we met with Stella). They planned to set time aside over the weekend to personally meet and thank that individual.  

“It’s great to see how many people want to support me and be a part of my campaign.” 

To support Stella on her journey to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, you can donate to her project here: